Errin Stevens writes paranormal romantic suspense from her home in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she lives with her husband and son.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
I have always wanted to write, but I didn’t dare do it! I thought writing was only for the smarter and more talented… which means Updrift simmered somewhere within me for about three decades before I coughed up a first draft.
My affinity for the task – and reticence, since others were already so accomplished – also came from reading so much as a kid. I’ve said this before, but I cannot adequately stress how profoundly reading influenced both my thinking habits and my writing sensibility. I really do see the world differently because I lived so profoundly in the stories I inhaled growing up. To this day, my first impulse is to interpret my experiences in terms of how “the story” of what I’m seeing and feeling would go, how I would write things in narrative form.
2.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
I had staunchly haute literary tastes in high school and through my twenties, but by the time I’d been in the workaday world a while, I came to understand the relief a girl could get from the fluffier, more pulpy world of commercial fiction. I began to pick up and greatly enjoy romances – and I remain convinced every genre writer should read Susan Elizabeth Phillips no matter what they write. But. I chose paranormal romantic suspense because I am personally entertained by it and the genre felt approachable to me. I.e., I could give myself permission to write a mermaid story, not so much War and Peace!
I gave my sirens a kind of super-intuition that allows everyone close to them kind of bliss out, especially in the water. And I think that would be so fun to experience.
4.What character from your book fills you with hope?
My favorite character in Updrift is my bad guy, Peter Loughlin. He was so dang much fun to write. He was also the most interesting character in my opinion because he was talented and beautiful and emotionally complicated… and he tried so very hard to be good before he failed at it. If I’d met Peter when I was twenty-five or so, I would have fallen instantly in love with him and tried to save him!
5.How did you find the time to write this book with your busy life? What ideas do you have on how others can make time in their lives?
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix when it comes to getting a novel onto the page, at least not as I’m able to do it. I marvel at the folks who publish multiple titles a year since I need at least two years to have one I feel is worth showing anybody. I’m so slow!
That said, the way to navigate through an approx. 100,000-word tome is to work on it every day. Seriously, the ‘butt in chair’ approach will get you further along than any other single tactic you will ever, ever employ. The barriers are myriad and largely between your own ears, e.g., you will have other things to do, and you’ll think your ideas are tired and worthless and that the whole project is a giant exercise in futility when you’re well into your story. But write, anyway. You will feel uninspired most if not all days. Write, anyway! You will spend weeks (months?) on large swaths of narrative you will later axe – but, you got it, WRITE, ANYWAY.
I stole this next idea from other successful writers but don’t mind ‘cause it also works for me: write early in the morning, from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. because there really is something about being not quite awake that helps the words flow. And when you’re stuck, try a rush-write, where for 90 seconds you do not let your hands stop typing – stream of consciousness and unpolished are de rigeur, but you have to make yourself write something about your characters or storyline. Sleep on whatever you come up with and then pick an idea out you can develop.
6.If you could change any one thing about the writing industry, what would it be?
Ehboy, what a great question. Straight up, I would change how authors are valued in terms of compensation because I would very much like to see people who write for a living make enough to live on.
I’m hopeful on this front because of the decentralization in publishing that’s taken place over the past 10 years, and over the new, high-integrity distribution and sales platforms that have become established components of our new, more complex system. Easier access to publishing for writers means a more crowded, competitive writing field; but authors also have bona fide opportunities for disseminating their work that didn’t exist just a few years ago. It’s a very exciting time to be an author, I believe.
7.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Believe in your story. Believe in your voice. You can do this.
8.Describe your workplace.
Although we have a formal office area in the house, I write at the kitchen table, which is recessed a bit into a nook with windows on three sides. I write on an Apple laptop that’s perma-installed at one end of the table, and I have two or three notebooks to the right of it at all times: one for jotting down notes for character or scene ideas or story progression thoughts I intend to tackle later; and one for the business side of what I do – bloggers or web sites or bookstores I’d like to contact. This set-up means I always have a bit of a mess on the table, but I don’t mind and my family doesn’t seem to, either!
9.What piece of art, that is not writing, moves you?
I occasionally fantasize about getting stuck on an island with a good cello and the full score of the Bach Cello Suites to study and play. I might choose to never come back…
10.If we wanted a good story—book, show or movie—one that you didn’t write, where would you send us?
Omigosh I could go on forever on this one – there is SO much good stuff out there. One combo I’ve been recommending lately is to read or reread Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and then immediately watch the movie “The Graduate.” I love how both central dramas do not rely on poverty to provide tension and yet the experience on offer is broadly relatable/compelling. I also love either watching or rereading The Godfather (Coppola/Puzo) from time to time; it kills me (yuk-yuk) how much we root for this family of basically thugs… and how interesting hero-villains can be!
11.If you could live anywhere other than where you are, where would it be?
My husband and I entertain an intermittent plan to move to the Pacific Northwest, where we could be by the ocean, the mountains, and vineyards all at the same time and keep the seasons. Yum.
12.You have a chance to hang out with any literary character for one day. Who would it be and what would you do?
I actually had a dream like this recently, and it was so freaking fabulous. My dream wasn’t as cruel as you are, though, because I got to spend the night in a magical library and talk with lots of literary characters, not just one, you big meanie (I’m teasing you a bit here…)! Anyway, to answer your question, I think I would drop in at Hogwarts and take an interesting class or two, maybe one that teaches you to magically write your next novel? 😉
13.If you could choose any other writer, living or dead, to be your mentor, whom would you choose and why?
I often fantasize about coming back as a ghost to haunt Ian McEwan and learn vicariously from him, which is kind of funny since he’s older than I am and unlikely to outlive me. But. I am in awe of the guy’s talent – he really hits the perfect notes with his characters and phrasing – and I’m too chicken to sign up for direct engagement. I always read something of his right before submitting work to my editor, and then run through my story one more time with the perspective his stories give me.
Find Errin Stevens online:
More Book Links: